The United States is unusually angry with Chancellor Scholz. Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov cryptically said that more was discussed behind closed doors at the Ramstein conference than is known. Meanwhile, Andriy Melnyk is pestering the SPD parliamentary group leader. All current news in the ticker.

Reading tip: You can read more about the war in Ukraine in the FOCUS online news ticker.

Military base – Is the Ramstein base really US territory? Does German law apply there?

Sunday, January 22, 11:25 a.m .: The continued hesitation of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine has been harshly criticized internationally. Scholz’s decision should now also weigh heavily on the relationship with the United States. As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reports, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin got into a heated argument with Chancellor Wolfgang Schmidt on the fringes of the Ramstein Conference. The encounter was “tense,” according to an internal report from American government circles.

Austin was already on his way to Germany when he received the news that Scholz publicly made his deliveries to Ukraine dependent on the United States. According to media reports, Scholz said in a phone call with US President Biden that he would only supply Leopard 2 tanks if the US were to send Abrams-type main battle tanks. According to the “SZ”, US security adviser Jake Sullivan called Scholz’s foreign policy adviser, Jens Plötner, and protested violently and creatively. The US government has rejected such a connection between the deliveries since October, since laying and operating the Abrams tanks would take too long.

9:32 p.m .: The former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, released his frustration with SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich on Twitter on Saturday evening. And he didn’t hold back with insults either: “This guy is the most cynical and disgusting German politician. He bears full responsibility for this disastrous image of Germany in the world,” writes Melnyk in the short message service.

“He will forever go down in history as the most valuable Russian asset since the beginning of Russian aggression, which has blocked support for Ukraine.” Ukraine repeatedly accuses Mützenich of being very close to Russia. In Kyiv he was even on the “terror list”. Since the beginning of the war, he has repeatedly advocated a “negotiated solution” with Russia, and has been openly criticized for this several times.

Trigger for Melnyk’s latest anger post: Mützenich had previously rejected the criticism of FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the battle tank debate with sharp words. “Ms. Strack-Zimmermann and others talk us into a military conflict. The same people who are calling for going it alone with heavy battle tanks today will be screaming for planes or troops tomorrow,” said Mützenich on Saturday of the German Press Agency. And then the quote, which obviously drove Melnyk crazy: “Politics in times of war in Europe are not made in the style of outrage rituals or gasping, but with clarity and reason.”

On Friday evening, Strack-Zimmermann, chairwoman of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, described the communication, especially from Scholz, as a “catastrophe” in the debate about the delivery of German Leopard 2 main battle tanks on Friday evening. “History is looking at us, and unfortunately Germany has just failed,” she said on ZDF’s “heute journal”.

6:50 p.m .: According to a “Spiegel” report, the list of tanks promised by the Minister of Defense has long been in the Ministry of Defense. The list clearly shows how many and which Leopard 2 tanks Germany can deliver to Ukraine. Read more about it here.

5:00 p.m .: The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksey Resnikov is very satisfied with the arms and tank deliveries to Ukraine announced yesterday in Ramstein. “All previously announced packages have been confirmed,” Reznikov told the Voice of America. The statement is astonishing since, contrary to expectations, there was no official agreement on the delivery of German or American battle tanks to Ukraine.

Reznikov cryptically adds, “In addition, some new packages have been discussed behind closed doors, which I’m not yet allowed to announce. That’s inspiring. I’m very satisfied.”

Saturday, January 21, 2023, 1:13 p.m.: The foreign ministers of the Baltic countries have asked Germany to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine. “This is necessary to stop Russian aggression, to help Ukraine and to quickly restore peace in Europe,” wrote Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics on Twitter on Saturday – according to his own statements also on behalf of his counterparts from Estonia and Lithuania. “As a leading European power, Germany has a special responsibility in this regard.”

Despite considerable pressure from Ukraine and allies, the federal government has not yet made a decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Kyiv. On Friday, the allies met for a Ukraine conference in Ramstein, at which further billions in aid for the country attacked by Russia were agreed.

10:57 p.m .: The chair of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FPD), has sharply criticized the postponed German decision on the supply of main battle tanks to Ukraine. “At least a signal would have been right to give the partners the green light,” she said on Friday on ZDF’s “heute journal” with a view to the desire of countries like Poland to send their own Leopard-2 from German production to Ukraine deliver. However, they need a permit from Berlin for this.

“History is looking at us, and unfortunately Germany just failed,” complained Strack-Zimmermann. The communication, especially from Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on this issue was a “disaster”, because on the one hand Germany is massively supporting Ukraine, but the lack of a decision on the battle tanks gives a different impression. Scholz remains guilty of explanations. From their point of view, the new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) is “on the chain”, said Strack-Zimmermann. However, she is certain that the Leopard-2 will ultimately be delivered to Ukraine.

9:20 p.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to continue fighting for the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks from Germany. During the talks, he heard a lot of understanding for the needs of Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, said Selenskyj in his video message distributed every evening in Kyiv on Friday evening. “Yes, we will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks, but every day we make it more obvious that there is no alternative to choosing tanks,” he said.

At the Ukraine conference at the US air force base in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, no decision was made on the delivery of main battle tanks. Nevertheless, Zelenskyj was optimistic that he will receive the tanks. Not everything that was talked about in Ramstein was intended for the public, said Zelenskyj.

7.46 p.m .: After the meeting of Ukraine supporters at the US air base in Ramstein, the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk criticized the federal government for its blockade attitude in the delivery of battle tanks. “It’s a huge disappointment that Germany ducked the leopard issue,” the former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany told Welt am Sonntag. “The fact that you still want to weigh things up is nothing more than a disgrace.”

Berlin was wasting valuable time with “questionable salami tactics” in arms aid for Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, criticized the government representative. At the meeting of the Ukraine contact group on Friday, representatives of 50 supporter nations of Ukraine met at the US base in Ramstein. They could not agree on the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

The new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) said on Friday in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, that he had arranged for an inventory of Leopard main battle tanks to be checked for possible delivery to Ukraine. With regard to an actual delivery, however, there is still “no uniform opinion” among the Ukraine supporters.

“What should you check, please?” Melnyk asked in an interview with the broadcasters RTL and ntv. By early March 2022, Ukraine had already realized how many tanks the Bundeswehr and the German armaments industry could supply to Ukraine. “I therefore call on the Minister of Defense to complete this examination very quickly in the next few days in order to finally enable the delivery of German battle tanks.” Ukraine needs “a huge tank alliance” to save human lives in Ukraine.

6:50 p.m .: US Chief of Staff Mark Milley still considers the chance of an early military victory for Ukraine in the war started by Russia to be low. From a military standpoint, it would be “very, very difficult” for Ukraine to drive Russian forces out of every inch of Ukraine and Russian-held territory this year, Milley said Friday after a Ukraine conference at Ramstein Air Force Base. “That doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” he stressed, “but it would be very, very difficult.” He believes that this war, like many before it, will end at the negotiating table.

Massive combat operations are taking place and Ukraine has made some important advances. But the front line is very long and mostly static, Milley said. It is initially more likely that the focus will continue to be on defense in order to stabilize the front. And depending on how quickly the arms deliveries from international partners and the training of the Ukrainian military in new weapon systems progress, a significant counter-offensive by Ukraine is also possible in order to liberate as much Ukrainian territory as possible.

6:25 p.m .: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has defended his country’s and Germany’s decision not to supply heavy battle tanks to Ukraine for the time being. “It’s not really about a single platform,” Austin said Friday after a Ukraine contact group meeting at the US base in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate. The US and its allies are “fairly successful” in providing Ukraine with the military capabilities needed in the war against Russia.

Austin referred to new military aid from the West for the Ukrainian armed forces. “It’s a very, very capable package,” the Pentagon chief said. “And used properly, it will enable them (the Ukrainians) to succeed.” Time is of the essence when it comes to arms shipments to Ukraine: “Now is a golden opportunity,” Austin said. “Between now and spring, whenever they begin their operation, their counter-offensive. That’s not a lot of time.”

At the same time, Austin emphasized that no decision had been made with regard to a possible delivery of US Abrams battle tanks – also known as M1 – or German Leopard 2 battle tanks. “I have no announcement on M1 and you heard the German defense minister say they haven’t made a decision on the Leopards yet.”

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